SIDNEY — With two weeks left in 2019, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is hoping for a safe holiday season.
“We’ve had 11 fatals so far this year,” said Lenhart during his weekly interview. “There’s been no particular (common) reason for any of them. Some have been failure to yield at a stop sign, one involved a snow mobile and others are distracted driving. And they have happened all over the county.”
With the snow Monday night into Tuesday morning, Lenhart said his deputies responded to 11 slideoffs, which included one fender-bender and 10 vehicles in the ditch by 11 a.m. Tuesday.
“With the holiday season here, there will be a lot of people partying,” said Lenhart. “We don’t want to add to our (fatality) total.”
In 2018, there wre nine fatal crashes in Ohio from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, said Lenhart.
“We had 46 driving under the influence arrests in the whole year of 2018. From Dec. 1, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2019, we had 15 arrests for DUI. We don’t go looking for them, but we will make a stop if we see an impaired driver behind the wheel. A lot of those people were involved in accidents.”
A majority of the crashes, he said, deal with speeding, distracted driving and weather-conditions.
“If you are driving 1 percent over the speed limit, that increases your chances to be involved in an accident by 2 percent,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart encourages everyone to “drive defensively” as “other drivers aren’t going to be as careful as you are.”
He said drivers should also avoid distractions such as texting or talking on a cell phone, eating and changing the radio station.
And if you’re going to a holiday party, Lenhart encourages everyone to have a designated driver before arriving at the party.
“We’re often asked ‘how much will put us driving under the influence,’” said Lenhart. “I recommend you don’t drive if you’ve had one drink. Always have a designated driver.
One beer, 4 ounces or one or 1 ounce of hard liquor can affect your driving, he said. Other factors include the person’s weight and if they are eating food or not.
“The law says .08 and you’re driving under the influence,” said Lenhart. “Most people get there with two adult drinks if they are drinking them fast.”
For some people, he said, the holidays are not a happy time. They might tend to drink more.
“The average person who doesn’t’ drink will have problems after two or three drinks,” he said.
And it;s also OK to say ‘no thanks’ when offered an alcoholic drink.
“You can resist the pressure to drink,” he said. “Take along your own nonalcoholic drink if you son’t want to drink.
“Alcohol can be a complement to the holiday but it’s not why we celebrate the holiday,” said Lenhart.
The person hosting the party should always have nonalcoholic drinks and food available for their guests, he said.
“If someone has had too much to drink, let them spend the night at your house,” he said. “Or call a cab or take them home yourself.
“And if you’re the host, don’t be afraid to intervene and stop them from leaving and driving on the roads.”
Lenhart said his family likes to play games — cards or board games — during their holiday parties.
“I hope everyone has a good holiday season,” said Lenhart.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.